Police present problem-solving award for work with youths at risk of crime at national conference
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PC Emily Dudley, Josephine Wickens (ESCC), Insp Kara Tombling and PC Sarah Poplett at the event this week
Police in Sussex presented their award-winning approach for engaging with youths involved with, or at risk of, crime at the National Problem Solving Conference this week.
Operation Asteroid, the Wealden Neighbourhood Policing team’s response to anti-social behaviour in Uckfield, was announced as the winner of the Neighbourhoods category of the 2020/21 Tilley Awards in February this year.
The operation centred around a community-wide assessment carried out by East Sussex County Council’s Children’s Services team, which identified issues and explored ways in which partners in the community could play a role in addressing them.
The team behind the initiative presented their approach at the event in Burton-on-Trent on Tuesday, September 28.
T/Inspector Kara Tombling said: “It has been an amazing opportunity and privilege to work with our partners within East Sussex Social Services and other stakeholders to understand and support the young children involved in this project, diverting them away from crime and preventing them from becoming vulnerable individuals in the community, and making the community a safer place for all.
“It was a privilege to be able to share this fantastic work with our colleagues around the country to showcase everyone’s hard work and dedication and hope other young children across the United Kingdom can benefit from this approach.”
The Contextual Safeguarding Assessment (CSA), carried out in May 2020, followed collaboration over a number of years between police, the county council, town council and Chamber of Commerce, among others, which resulted in a venue and funding being secured to re-open an Uckfield Youth Club in April 2019.
While that work addressed some of the issues in the Uckfield area, there remained continuing challenges with a small number of young people.
Using the information gathered from the CSA, police and the county council identified a group of young people involved in crime and anti-social behaviour, and potentially at risk of criminal exploitation. This cohort of young people were then subject of several months of focused engagement by police officers and youth workers.
Police Constables Emily Dudley and Sarah Poplett, from the Wealden Neighbourhood Policing Team, were assigned to the operation to ensure this work was conducted in a consistent way and to help build rapport with the young people. They carried out regular visits, sometimes in partnership with key workers from Children’s Services, to establish ways the police could assist in reducing the young person’s involvement in crime or anti-social behaviour.
Since May 2020, there has been a significant drop in offending by the young people involved in Operation Asteroid and a noticeable reduction in anti-social behaviour in some of the hot-spot areas within Uckfield.